Wizards’ Unseld Jr. enters protocols, Delany to coach vs. Blazers

Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. calls a timeout

The Wizards announced Friday that head coach Wes Unseld Jr. has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will be unavailable for at least Saturday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers. Assistant coach Pat Delany will take over as acting head coach for the contest.

Unseld Jr. is in his first season as an NBA head coach, having guided the Wizards to a 22-20 start good for the ninth-best record in the Eastern Conference. A series of coronavirus cases has left the Wizards’ roster thin at several points this season, but Unseld Jr. had avoided protocols up to this point. He joins star guard Bradley Beal as the only two members of the Wizards currently sidelined due to the virus.

As a result, the Wizards will turn to the veteran assistant Delany to keep their three-game winning streak going. Delany joined Unseld Jr.’s staff last offseason after seven seasons working under Steve Clifford on the Charlotte Hornets (2014-18) and Orlando Magic (2018-21). He also spent one season as the head coach of the G League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce and held various coordinator and scouting roles with the Boston Celtics (2001-02) and Miami Heat (2002-13).

The Wizards take on the Trail Blazers on Saturday night in the first of 12 consecutive games against teams in a playoff position. If Unseld Jr. tested positive Friday, he would be required to isolate for at least the next five days. That would force him to miss both Monday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers and their clash with the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday as well.